Friday, July 31, 2009

Northwest Survives record breaking Heat Wave!

Yes, it's been a scorcher up here, in Northwest, these past few days! Made me (almost) miss Texas, where they actually have air conditioning almost everywhere. Businesses up here, without air conditioning, closed altogether or only opened up for a half day. We finally gave in and went to stay at an air-conditioned hotel, with a nice cold pool. We lived in the pool for nearly two whole days. Lauren has always been a fish, but Bethany and Erynn Jeanne can now swim the length of medium sized pool doing the crawl stroke (or what Lauren calls freestyle). They were proud. Bethany is great at the backstroke too, it turns out. It was a nice retreat!

(Alright, I admit it: I do miss Texas, but I love living up here too. It's so breathtakingly beautiful. I feel as if I'm living in my own little piece of heaven here on Earth. Being near water and the mountains is good for the soul.)

We're back down in the low 80's again -- much more the norm for this time of year. We're also back at home. Heard from my folks, in Texas, that they had rain and temps in the low 80's while we were melting up here in our mini-heat wave. Weird?!

I'm proud to say that I've made it over 2.5 weeks without coffee now. I didn't cheat either -- not once, scout's honor. My stomach is thankful for my sacrifice. I've lost a lot of weight (over 15 lbs.), but I am once again able to eat solid food, with some substance and taste. Well worth the effort and sacrifice!

I've also found something to do with my restless energy -- besides exercise like a mad woman. I've started making jewelry. Kids and I bought some kits a while back. That taught me some of the basic techniques and how all of the tiny, tiny pieces, fit together. So far, I've made 6 necklaces, 3 bracelets, 2 anklets, and a whole rack of earrings. Hope all of my acquaintances, and family, like jewelry: cause I've made (am making) way more than I could ever possibly wear. I'll try to post some photos of what I've made. Let me know if you see anything you like, and I'll send it to you. Jewelry making is great for late nights and insomnia too. I do some of my best work then. I found a clip on earring base for the kids, so they can join in on the fun too. They get a kick out of wearing earrings, without having to have pierced ears.

(Photos of jewelry that I've made -- sorry these aren't my best photos, but they're up here for you to see ...)

If you're interested in jewelry making I'd suggest starting with the kits. They give the best breakdown of simple techniques, with step by step diagrams. Best of all the kits do all of the shopping for you, so you have all of the right pieces, connectors, and hole diameters. No guess work involved. Standing in the bead aisle at Michael's, or some other craft store, can be pretty daunting if you don't know what you're looking for. Then, you get home and -- nine times out of ten -- you don't have the connecting pieces you need, or the holes of your beads don't quite match your connecting wire or string. There are lots of books out there, but I haven't a found a good basics book yet. Most of the books I've found have lots of great ideas, but assume that you already know the basics.

I'm going to look into taking a welding class so that I can make my own metal pieces -- medallions and the like. That would be tres cool! I also met someone at a local arts festival that does amazing things with glass and resin -- for jewelry. Maybe he'll take on an apprentice?

Hope you all are having a relaxing summer! I am praying for jobs for everyone: that those who have them keep them; and those that loose them, find new ones quickly. I am also praying for inner peace, for myself and for everyone during these trying times of economic uncertainty.

God Bless!


Saturday, July 25, 2009

"Watchmen" The Movie

Life is better today! Finally saw "Watchmen" on DVD last night. Ken had read the graphic novel -- reads all of these. We were too busy to see the movie in the theaters, however, so we've anxiously been awaiting its release on DVD.

If you liked the movie, you should try reading the graphic novel. Ken really enjoyed it, but I have to warn you: it's a long novel! Ken likes the internal conflict of a "hero" having to struggle with his dark side. In truth, I think that having a dark side is just part of human nature. We all have one. Some of us are just better at keeping our dark side at bay than others. But, I digress ...

Ken gave "Watchmen" a 6, on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being highest marks). He said that the end differed slightly from the novel. It was a bit out there for my tastes; I'd give it a 4. But, I thought that the soundtrack rocked: Lots of 70's music!

Here is the soundtrack thanks to the efforts of another blogger:

(Her site supposedly has a link to download the soundtrack?)

Track Listing:01 - My Chemical Romance - Desolation Row 03:0102 - Nat King Cole - Unforgettable 03:2803 - Bob Dylan - The Times They Are A-Changin’ 03:1404 - Simon & Garfunkel - The Sound Of Silence 03:0705 - Janis Joplin - Me And Bobby McGee 04:3206 - K.C. & The Sunshine Band - I’m Your Boogie Man 04:0407 - Billie Holiday - You’re My Thrill 03:2508 - The Philip Glass Ensemble - Pruit Igoe & 08:38Prophecies09 - Leonard Cohen - Hallelujah 04:3810 - Jimi Hendrix - All Along The Watchtower 04:0211 - Budapest Symphony Orchestra - Ride Of The 05:22Valkyries12 - Nina Simone - Pirate Jenny 06:39

The Jimi Hendrix song is awesome! Check it out on my tunes link or go to
and type: 'Jimi Hendrix, All Along The Watchtower', in the search pane.

I'll try posting a direct link here to the song here?
[To hear songs posted in my blog, click on the streampad bar at the bottom of this window.]

("Experience Music Project" (EMP), in Seattle, Washington, has an awesome Jimi Hendrix exhibit. Did you know that he was left handed? He learned to play a right-handed guitar upside down, in order to hold it left handed. Is that talent or what?! If you're in that part of the country be sure to check out the EMP. My kids had a blast there (me too)! Here's the link for the EMP:
Quote: "When the power of love overcomes the love of power, then the world will know peace." ~Jimi Hendrix

Later ...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 8 Without Coffee

Day 8 without coffee. I feel calmer today. The shakes are subsiding -- yes, I was an avid coffee drinker. Had trouble sitting still yesterday, but got through the day without coffee. Should be smooth sailing from here on out. My stomach feels better; hopefully the ulcer is not back. I can eat again -- small, bland meals. So that's worth giving the coffee up for. I guess?

Life marches on ...



Song: Bittersweet Symphony.mp3, By The Verve

Song: WhiteFlag.mp3, By Dido

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Finished "State of Fear", By Michael Crichton

[ 6/3/2010 ... I never went back and re-read this after its initial post ... It was written late at night during an insomnia kick (usually a 3-5 day stretch with little (maybe 2 hrs. of non-deep sleep per night) or no sleep. I read it again now, for the first time and just cringe ... talk about COMMA OVERLOAD?!!? ... Hah ... I think each comma overused represents an actual brain stall on my part at the time. ; ) Oh well, I have corrected the annoying overuse. Please re-read and forgive ... ]

I've finished reading "State of Fear", by Michael Crichton. It was a good book and a quick read. Crichton did a lot of research for this one -- three years, he admits at the end in the 'Author's Message'. After reading this modern day thriller, you can read this last section of the book to find out what Crichton really believes regarding environmental issues and 'global warming' in particular.

The baseline event for this book is the preparation for a lawsuit to be filed by a large environmental group, NERF (National Environmental Resource Fund), on behalf of a tiny South Pacific island nation called Vanutu. The suit is to be filed against the EPA of the United States of America. The lawsuit claims that ocean levels are rising at an alarming rate and in the near will future entirely engulf the tiny island nation. The suit claims that the cause for the rising ocean levels is none other than the infamous 'global warming', with the culprit being none other than the EPA of the United States.  Why?  For failing to enforce stricter carbon emissions controls on its industry.

The characters in "State of Fear" aren't well developed, but they are developed enough that you have a feel for where they are coming from. Good plot and overall storyline. The end was a bit predictable, save for one gruesome scene -- could have done without that image in my mind. Still sends chills down my spine, just writing about it again.

Crichton doesn't put a lot of stock in conventional wisdom regarding environmental issues. In "State of Fear", he challenges environmental zealots to clearly state their beliefs and the basis for these beliefs. Then he hammers them with the facts which are documented throughout the book, in countless pages of footnotes and references -- hence the three years of research, I guess. I plan on looking into a few of his references myself, for some additional reading (e.g., references to DDT, as given on page 536, Avon Books, Copyright 2004). Crichton's book also finds the notion that some individuals truly believe that we possess the knowledge, or the ability, to control the environment absurd -- especially in light of the fact that we live in a dynamic world which is in a constant state of change and has been for the last 4.5 billion years.

The individual doing the 'hammering' in "State of Fear" is an enigmatic MIT professor, named John Kenner. Supposedly, Kenner is on sabbatical and working for the NSIA (like NSA?). I liked this character. He was succinct, somewhat cold-hearted, and quick on his feet. Wish Crichton had developed this character more. It did seem a bit unbelievable that such an individual did not have more resources at his disposal -- specifically, that Kenner kept dragging the young lawyer and secretary (of the millionaire philanthropist providing the financial backing the Vanuatu lawsuit) into the throws of peril instead of using some of his own agents. Guess that Kenner was trying to keep a low profile? And maybe Crichton wanted to humanize the story by involving his central characters: Peter Evans (young lawyer) and Sara Jones (young secretary)? One character kind of drove me nuts: Peter Evans. He was a bit flaky, but you grow to like him after a couple hundred pages.

There are a lot charts and graphs in this book and some parts are just plain preachy. But if you can get past these 'preachy' parts, this is truly a good story and well worth the effort to read. My husband stopped reading "State of Fear" after the first 100 pages -- because of the 'preachy parts', he said. Now, that I've made it through to the end of the book: he's going to give it another shot.

What I liked best about "State of Fear" is that it made me stop and think about the basis for my own beliefs regarding environmental issues. I wondered: Could I clearly state what I believe, with regards to 'global warming' -- and other environmental issues? Further, could I defend, with documented facts, why I believe what I hold to be truth? Thankfully, I've never put much stock in conventional wisdom. I'm an information junkie; I need to do my own research and get the facts before I draw a conclusion. So what about you? What do you believe? Are you just content to be herded ... like cattle ... along with the masses, into a 'state of fear' by the PLM (politico-legal media complex) machine (Avon Books, Copyright 2004, page 501)?

Here's an excerpt from my favorite part of the book (also on page 501, as noted above):

"Has it ever occurred to you how astonishing the culture of Western society really is? Industrialized nations provide their citizens with unprecedented safety, health, and comfort. Average life spans increased fifty percent in the last century. Yet modern people live in abject fear. They are afraid of strangers, of disease, of crime, of the environment. They are afraid of the homes they live in, the food they eat, the technology that surrounds them. They are in a particular panic over things they can't even see -- germs, chemicals, additives, pollutants. They are timid, nervous, fretful, and depressed. And even more amazingly, they are convinced that the environment of the entire planet is being destroyed around them! Remarkable! Like the belief in witchcraft, it's an extraordinary delusion -- a global fantasy worthy of the Middle Ages. Everything is going to hell, and we all must live in fear. Amazing."

In sum, if you've overlooked "State of Fear" -- as I had done -- you should take the time to read it now. It's a fast-paced, entertaining adventure that actually makes you stop and think. Good read! I would highly recommend this book to anyone willing to temporarily suspend their established beliefs, in order to think outside of 'the box' for awhile.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Day 6 without coffee ...

Day 6 without coffee. Today is a hard day. I could really could use a cup of coffee today -- many cups of coffee. For some reason coffee grounds me, helps me find my center, calms my restlessness, and helps to fight fleeting moments of depression. Kids are fighting relentlessly, and I have writer's block. Trying to stay busy. Haven't given in yet!

Ken and I watched the sun set, down by the water, at a local pub last night, so that was a nice retreat. Good to spend some time alone together. Kids start back to Taekwondo tomorrow, so that should be an additional outlet for their limitless energy. Trying to find healthy ways to channel mine ...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Giving up my one (?) vice ...

Day 4.5 without coffee. My stomach (internal digestion) has, once again, dictated that I give up one of my greatest pleasures in life: coffee. The headaches -- probably from withdrawal -- are starting to subside, and this time my cravings aren't too bad. Ken has been sweet about not brewing a fresh pot of coffee when I'm around. In place of my coffee, I am now consuming nearly a box of green tea day. Oh well; it could be worse.

Here's an added bonus: my mid-section is visibly trimmer after just a few days without coffee. And I haven't stepped up, or modified, my workout either. Heard this was true. So all of you, trying to stay in shape for swimsuit season, here's a quick fix: GIVE UP THE COFFEE! It really helps!

Here's to your health. Cheers! I'm off to get another cup of green tea.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Read Any Good Books Lately?

"The Historian", by Elizabeth Kostova

book website:

[ 6/3/2010 ... I never went back and re-read this after its initial post ... It was written late at night during an insomnia kick (usually a 3-5 day stretch with little ...maybe 2 hrs. of non-deep sleep per night ... or no sleep).  I read this book review again now...  for the first time ... and just cringe ... talk about COMMA OVERLOAD?!!? ... Hah ... I think each comma overused represents an actual brain stall on my part at the time.  ; )   Oh well, think I have corrected the annoying overuse.  Please re-read and forgive ... ]

I have to admit, that since embarking upon a journey to write a book, I have not read as much as I normally do -- I usually have at least six books, of different genres ( e.g., history, science, fiction, religion, politics) going at any given time.  The latter being said, I did manage to finish a rather lengthy, but nonetheless engaging, contemporary novel:  "The Historian", by Elizabeth Kostova.  "The Historian" was a challenging but also an incredibly interesting read, especially if you happen to love history --as I do.  This novel is probably one of the hardest books that I've read (for fun) since my college days, but it was well worth the effort. I really liked the ending of this book as well. [Note: Have since read Dante's "Divine Comedy" ... the latter makes "The Historian" look like a cake walk. ; ) ]

"The Historian" is a bit slow moving at first, but it picks up after the first 100, or so pages.  This book is 909 pages total. "The Historian" is a slightly different take on traditional vampire lore, with an old world feel. Kostova uses beautiful imagery to describe places in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. You almost feel as if you've actually been to these places yourself after you've read Kostova's brilliant depictions of these fabulous places.

The characters in "The Historian" are well developed and likeable. I would, however, liked to have seen a bit more of Dracula in the writing ... appearances ... inner thoughts, etc. of the book.  Most of the book consists of chasing the shadows of Dracula.  That is to say, sorting through the myth, legend and history in order to find your way toward a 'living' Dracula, near the end. Although, when Dracula finally does make an appearance in this tale it is a memorable one.

Kostova also gives a lot of historical references in "The Historian", some authentic and some fictional.  These references are often in form of documents and letters, that can be a bit hard to read through. I won't lie to you: there are ALOT of these document references included in the text. And large portions of the book are written in the form of letters that you have to read through in order to keep up with what's happening in the story proper. Good news is that you can skim through most of the historical documents just to get the basic gist if you like.  Skimming is a bit harder to do with the letters, but the latter are often shorter in length than the documents.

This novel has an underlying romantic element, but it isn't overstated and the love scenes aren't over the top. I give Kostova credit for writing them herself -- I may have to have mine ghost written ... hard to put yourself totally out there with respect to romantic encounters, to be seen and judged by others. 
Bottom line:  if you're into vampires and the like, but demand a bit more in your reading than the current "Twilight" series of books -- which my grade school daughter who reads at a high school level and above (so I'm honestly not saying that "Twilight" is a series for nitwits, or anything) ... absolutely loves (My daughter has read the complete "Twilight" series three times already!) -- then "The Historian" might just be for you.

Side Note: I saw that Sony Pictures has plans to make this book into a movie, so others seem to have liked the story as well. Check it out:

6/3/2010 ... Nothing new has since materialized on the movie making front, so perhaps Sony decided to pull the plug on the movie version of this book?

Right now: I'm revisiting Michael Crichton's books. Great author! Somehow, I missed "State of Fear", so I'm starting with that one. I tried reading "Galileo's Daughter", by Dava Sobel, but I have too much going on in my life right now to be able to really dive into that book at the present time. Maybe this winter? In addition to the reading of novels, I am also scanning through some science articles on applications of fractals in science, physics/astronomy news and updates, and of course always I'm always reading something new on world religions in an effort to gain some different perspectives and insights for the journey we are all on in this life.

Happy Reading! Let me know if you've read any good books lately. I'm always looking for things to add to my TBR list.

P.S. Saw a Blogger with a blog out there where the author reviews books and wine -- interesting combination? Maybe, wine enhances the reading experience? Have to try that. -- Anyway, it got me thinking ... wondering ... has anyone out there ever had a good Cabernet Sauvingon? I haven't?! I love most red wines, particularly Pinot Noir. Maybe, I just haven't had a good Cab yet? Preferably a bottle under $40.00?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Blogger!

Happy 10Th Birthday Blogger!

Quite an accomplishment! Thank you all, for providing an alternative to Face book, and the like, where some actual thought can occur. Leading a busy life, coping with the challenges of parenthood -- most challenging job of my life to date! -- and not having much time to myself, Blogger has a been a great place for me to vent and to see what others are actually thinking too.

I have no delusions that legions of people actually care what I think, or happen to say -- there's just too much glittering competition out there to compete with -- but being able to reflect on my life and the world around me -- to clear my head -- has been good for me. And just maybe, from time to time, what I have to say might make its way to just the person that needs to read it (e.g., Children: Opening our Hearts and Minds, November 3, 2008, Label: Abortion).

Writing my Blog has also made me aware of the fact, that I actually do enjoy writing -- go figure? And this realization has inspired me to take some of the many stories, rattling around in my head, and formalize them into the sci-fi thriller (book) that I am very near to completing. Once I finalize the publication details, I'll see if I can post some chapters on my blog. Until then, keep up the great work! Love all of the new tools, gizmos, and gadgets. My eleven year-old has fun trying the latest gadgets out and updating my blog for me. You guys rock! As my youngest says, "Peace, out!".

Friday, July 03, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July to all my family in Texas. Hard to get in touch with anybody these days. But hope you all have a fun 4th. Enjoy shooting off your 2 hours of fireworks (per Mom). We'll miss that. Don't burn the ranch down!

It's finally warm here now. Not too hot, but just enough to make me miss air conditioning?! Won't be missing those high summer electric bills though.

Happy 4th of July to anyone else who stops by. Happy Birthday America! May God especially bless those serving in the armed forces, especially those deployed overseas with their families still back at home. We owe all men and women willing to serve in our armed forces a debt of gratitude which can probably never truly be repayed.

God Bless!


P.S. Hey Rhett, who knows every line from almost every good movie (and some bad ones too : ) ever made. What movie did this come from? "I can never go home, Oatman. But, I guess that you can shop there."